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Keith Olbermann Departure: Critic Laments, 'Comcast's Shakedown of NBC Has Just Begun'

Keith Olbermann leaves MSNBC the same week the government gives regulatory approval to the Comcast-NBC merger. Coincidence? Not so, says University of Nebraska law professor Marvin Ammori.

Ammori, a former advisor to the nonprofit watchdog group Free Press, which opposes the merger, tells the New York Times that Olbermann's departure was very much a decision handed down from MSNBC's pending corporate parent. Ammori says the two events raise "serious concern for anyone who cares about free speech. Comcast proved expert in shaking down the government to approve its merger. Comcast's shakedown of NBC has just begun."

Olbemann announced that he was leaving the show Friday, and under the conditions of his separation agreement with the network, cannot discuss the particulars of his actions in interviews nor begin a new series for an undisclosed period of time, notes the Times.

Comcast denied any involvement in Olbermann's negotiations, saying in a statement released late Friday, "Comcast has not closed the transaction for NBC Universal and has no operational control at any of its properties including MSNBC."

The statement continues, "We pledged from the day the deal was announced that we would not interfere with NBC Universal's news operations. We have not and we will not."

Olbermann is one of cable TV's most vocal liberals. Several of Comcast's top execs give financial support of Republicans. Olbermann, was, however, suspended by MSNBC in November after he admitted to giving donations to Democratic candidates, including Gabrielle Giffords, for the November election.